In our culture being childlike is usually looked down upon. Bursts of childlike enthusiasm, excitement, or joy are often considered “immature.” Maturity (apparently) is based on skepticism, put-togetherness, and coolness. When the disciples saw children crowding around Jesus, they shooed them away. Jesus was far too important for their childlike behavior. Yet Jesus’ response was not what the disciples expected: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” (Matthew 19:14).
There are three elements to childlikeness that I think point us a little closer to the heart of Heaven.
First, children have a great amount of faith. Children have the ability to take something at face-value without the need to question. As Christians, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see,” (Hebrews 11:1).
Children do that well. They are often gullible, yes, but they are trusting of people and facts without inhibition. Adults not so much. We tend to need proof. Part of “being” is learning to accept the mystery of our faith. God is mysterious. I need to learn to be okay with realizing that I’m not going to understand all of God’s plan. Things may not make sense now, but He is in control. I simply need to have faith that He is God and I am not.
Second, children are playful. What do children love to do more than anything else? Play. Children are always seeking fun. They are full of creativity and imagination.
Maturity is linked with responsibility, concentration, and success. Have we lost our ability to play? Have we lost our ability to laugh? To guffaw? To giggle? Have we lost our ability to create? To see beauty?
I know that there is nothing better for them [the workers] than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his good efforts.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12-13)
God has blessed us with this beautiful life so that we can delight in the joy of living. Sometimes I can get so consumed in everything I have to get done that I forget to enjoy the process. In the rush from class to class, I sometimes forget to look around me and revel in the beauty of an autumn afternoon.
Productivity is not our end.
Let me repeat myself, if only for my benefit: Productivity is not our end.
When we are so consumed in checking off our list, we can’t see the people around us, feel the warm sun on our skin, or hear the melody of birds chirping. There is so much more to life. God wants us to find joy in the life that He has breathed into us.
Third, to be childlike is to feel. Immaturity is showing your pain and being vulnerable. Immaturity is experiencing compassion and sorrow from the hurt of others. To feel is to be weak. So we are told. But no. To feel is to be human.
Sensitive hearts are beautiful. I think people who experience sympathy are a little closer to reaching the heart of God.
Jesus was full of compassion during His time on Earth. He held the hands of sinners. He mourned His friend’s death with broken sobbing. He preached even when He was exhausted, because He knew the people needed to hear His message of hope.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Children are wonderful at showing compassion and love to others. If only we could look outside ourselves to notice and sit with the brokenhearted. Jesus has shown us compassion during our troubles, so that when others experience the same struggle, we can relate to and comfort them.
So tomorrow when you wake up, embrace the heart of a child–one that is trusting, enthusiastic, and compassionate. Heaven belongs to hearts like these.
– – Phebe
(PC: 1) http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/06/part-2-of-the-2013-national-geographic-traveler-photo-contest/100539/, 2) http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/07/national-geographic-traveler-photo-contest-2012/100339/, and 3) http://www.flickr.com/photos/andsos/5849501892/)